Word has come down today that the Blue Jays have activated closer Casey Janssen off the disabled list and designated second baseman Chris Getz for assignment. Most people who keep close tabs on the Blue Jays have reacted to this news by just shrugging it off as just another inexplicable transaction that the club has made this season.
Wasn’t Chris Getz supposed to be the answer at second base if Ryan Goins faltered? As far back as the offseason, Getz was going to be the first alternative to Ryan Goins. Getz had a pretty decent track record in the major leagues as a hitter and had already worked with current Blue Jays hitting coach Kevin Seitzer when he was with the Royals. So what happened? Goins hit about a buck-fifty and was sent down while Getz didn’t do too much to ensure his roster spot by playing mediocre defense and hitting .160 in 10 games. Steven Tolleson remains with the Jays. He’s a very versatile utility man and he’s gotten off to a great start in this major league campaign by getting six hits in six games, all for extra bases (four doubles and two triples).
Today’s game features a bench of Thole, Kratz and Lawrie while seeing Tolleson in the starting lineup at second base. The repercussions of this move aren’t immediately obvious but the subtext is clear: we’re going to see more of Juan Francisco at third base and Brett Lawrie at second when Lawrie returns to the lineup (probably tomorrow). I mean, the Blue Jays are obviously not going to sit Lawrie in favour of Tolleson so it looks like this is going to be the lineup (with Francisco at third and Lawrie at second) that we’re going to see for a while. Over the past day or so, it appears that the Blue Jays have made it official that Lawrie will be playing at second when the Blue Jays face a right-handed starter (thanks to many stories on this including Mike Rutsey’s at the Toronto Sun).
This tells me that the Blue Jays are desperately looking for something that will work at second base. Lawrie expressed his preference to play only third base just over a week ago in an article written by John Lott at the National Post, headlined “I’m a third baseman.” Moving Lawrie to second base is happening for the second year in a row and it is a clear demonstration of the club’s inability to acquire big-league depth at the position and how they’re making things up as they go along.
The club’s management has been flying by the seat of its pants all year, especially at second base, since Maicer Izturis went down with what is probably a season-ending knee injury. With Goins, Getz, Jonathan Diaz and Munenori Kawasaki unable to stick around, it’s been a revolving door at the keystone position. The club has also seen a lot of instability in the bullpen and, to some degree, in the starting rotation.
The amazing thing is that the Jays are keeping their heads above water so far and if Lawrie can help get some offense out of second base in the near future, then the Jays might have a chance to play .500 ball (assuming the pitching doesn’t implode). The Blue Jays still need to answer questions about second base: the club has very little depth at that position all the way through the system and none of the potential players at the position have really distinguished themselves so far. The scary thing is that the Lawrie move isn’t permanent; the Blue Jays have no real second baseman for the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, by trying to figure things out at second base on the go, the Blue Jays are unlikely to come up with a permanent solution moving forward for the rest of the season, instilling less confidence in the fan base.
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